Chapter 7Reading Minds and Other Methods for Assessing Progress

So you've navigated the politics and launched your change initiative. Now you've got to keep things moving forward. No matter how successful you were with your launch, this is the point where things can go radically wrong if you're not exceptionally people savvy. Tracking progress seems like it should be black and white: You're moving forward in your schedule or you're not. New processes are producing results or they're not. Customers are more satisfied or they're not. In fact, it's not that easy.

At this stage in the game, you need more than a crackerjack project manager checking boxes. A mind reader would be nice, but since that's impossible, in this chapter I offer some methods for accurately assessing progress—or in other words, getting the straight dope.

During my first year as the director of operations of the transportation division at Georgia-Pacific, we ran into a problem with shipments. The sales department was screaming at us because customers were getting their products late. I checked in with the team. They told me that only 5 percent of shipments were affected. I reported that up to management. Again and again they told me 5 percent, and I reported it up, over a six-week period. Meanwhile, we implemented a system that would tell us exactly what percentage of deliveries was arriving on time.

I'll never forget the day I got the first report. I looked at the screen and saw not 5 percent, but 50 percent. ...

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